I’ve watched people stay in unhealthy situations far longer than they should have stayed and I can’t help but think, “Why in the heck do they put up with that crap?” Over the years of speculating, I’ve determined that making life changes for many people is simply too hard. It seems that, the devil folks know is better than the devil they don’t.
But, all the speculation and assumptions I muster still don’t help me understand what keeps people in unhealthy situations. For example, I recently changed jobs and in doing so, I did the unthinkable: I gave up a full-time State government gig to return to contracted consulting as a Project Manager. Many people, once they learn of my job switch, look at me with their face saying, “oh you poor crazy soul, what on Earth would possess you to do such a strange thing?” But for me, it isn’t all that strange.
Though I was comfortable in my job, that comfort was allowing me to become complacent. Also, I was tolerating behavior towards me that was simply unacceptable. That complacency and tolerance was something that I couldn’t live with anymore. I live my life based upon something pretty simple: Respect for myself and others and not accepting anything from others. But in the years of working as I was, I wasn’t really respecting myself and in not respecting myself, I allowed others to treat me with a lack of respect. Though I liked my gig, I just couldn’t live in the half-alive stupor to which I had become accustomed. As a contracted consultant, I have to stay focused on every task at hand or I don’t get paid. For me, that focus helps me maintain hunger and drive.
Now, I realize that there are times when a person simply cannot leave a situation. But even in those situations, having an exit strategy for getting out of an unhealthy situation is always a good idea. For example, I know that the current contract gig I’m working may not last forever, but I do have an idea of what my “next steps” will entail.
Really, even putting an “exit strategy” together can provide relief from the crap within an unhealthy environment. Though it took me six (6) months longer to execute my plan than I would have liked, I knew since last summer that I’d return to contracting work, at least for a while. The pay is better and as a consultant, I’m removed from the internal politics of various organizations. But before I made the switch, I planned out all the things I needed to do ahead of time.
Long story short: Though I don’t understand why people stay in unhealthy situations, I do think that having a plan organized and ready to execute can help with the unhealthiness. Then again, I think planning for a certain outcome is the solution to most of life’s problems…